Bumpy roads are something Niki is used to. As a classics specialist and connoisseur of the big-edged cobblestones of Belgium and northern France, he is well acquainted with permanently vibrating wrists and full-body jolts - not to mention adverse weather conditions. However, the size of the most unpleasant cobblestones amounts to the size of a fist and the arrangement is somehow regular even in the most chaotic style. However, the misshapen boulders and snake-like root strands that form the terrain of the Transalp stages along loose forest floors and slippery steep slopes are quite road-cyclists-unfriendly in a different order. The large stones in particular seem to cause problems for an asphalt specialist. That's where it's good to be able to rely on the experience of your team partner.
"Big rocks everywhere," quips Niki's team partner Gosse, who feels at home on mountain bikes and cyclocrossers. "I ride up front and always warn Niki when another big rock is coming." I can't help asking if the stones are bigger here than at Paris-Roubaix. Niki's eyes widen, the corners of his mouth turn into a grin: "Muuuuch bigger," he laughs and thanks Gosse for the danger-weighing route review in the race.
Niki reveals that he trusts his team partner blindly. And they had only just met before the MAXXIS BIKE Transalp 2021. Having spontaneously decided via Instagram to take part in the team's legendary stage race across the Alps, they only did a get-to-know-you lap together one day before the start. "Two hours was enough. Then I knew what he was capable of," Gosse explains with an appreciative nod in Niki's direction.
But what is it like for a road pro to ride in a mountain bike stage race? "It's very exhausting. I really race here and always give everything. The extremely steep climbs are particularly energy-sapping," the classics specialist admits and continues to quip, "And the big rocks, of course." In addition, he says, it's very good technique training from which he can also benefit in the road race. In general, the road pro places a lot of emphasis on a wide-ranging multi-training program, which - especially in winter - also includes units on the mountain bike on and off. "It's especially nice - especially after the long Corona blues - to try something new again and have some variety," Niki continues visibly cheerful. That's why the MAXXIS BIKE Transalp is also like a great mix of intensive training camp and relaxed vacation. Vacation feeling comes in the comfortable-pragmatic camper and with the two no less good-humored supporters certainly. As I say goodbye, the game pieces are already being brought out to play the annual Rummikub after my disappearance.
Do you also want to face the adventure BIKE Transalp and share an unforgettable experience with hundreds of other cycling friends? Then register until November 30th for this event in 2022. Until then you can benefit from the Early Bird discount and pay only 899 Euro instead of 999. All U23 riders pay only 699 euros instead of 749 until November 30.